The Jive Bombers

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The Jive Bombers are a one-hit wonder group formed in New York City from the 40s and 50s music era.  They comprised of members from two prior acts, The Palmer Brothers and Sonny Austin & The Jive Bombers.  They renamed themselves as the Jive Bombers in 1949 when they were signed to Coral Records.  “Bad Boy” was the R&B combo’s only charting single, on both pop and R&B charts.  But the song’s fame overshadowed the band somewhat, for it was re-recorded by other artists.  It was later heard conspicuously in the John Waters-helmed movie, Cry Baby in 1990. 

Meet The Jive Bombers

Known mainly with the 1957 big hit “Bad Boy,” The Jive Bombers was a short-lived R&B band from New York City formed in the early 1940’s. The vocal quartet consisted of Earl Johnson, Al Tinney (born May 28, 1921), William “PeeWee” Tinney and Clarence Palmer. They were also former members of two previous groups Sonny Austin & the Jive Bombers and The Palmer Brothers.

From The Sparrows to The Jive Bombers with their lone hit “Bad Boy”

Avon Long 1943 Publicity Photo
Avon Long 1943 Publicity Photo

The Jive Bombers are not to be confused with another band of the same name but otherwise of another different genre (rockabilly). The Jive Bombers had been frequently switching labels throughout their career. In 1949, the group was signed to Coral Records as the The Sparrows. Moving to Citation Records in 1953, they decided to change their name to The Jive Bombers. However, they switched to Savoy Records in 1957 where they had released their smash hit “Bad Boy.” It became their first hit, reaching #7 on the Black Singles chart while it placed on #36 on the Billboard national chart. Co-penned by Avon Long and Lil Hardin, “Bad Boy” had been covered by numerous artists, among of them were The Escorts, Mink Deville, Buster Poindexter, Sha Na Na and Ringo Starr to name a few. The hit song was also featured in the teen musical romantic comedy film Cry-Baby, directed by the famous director John Waters.

The Jive Bombers’ discography (may be impartial)

Savoy Records

(Dec 1956)

  • A: Bad Boy
  • B: When Your Hair Has Turned To Silver

(May 1957)

  • A: The Blues Don’t Mean A Thing
  • B: If I Had A Talking Picture

(Jun 1957)

Clarence “Bad Boy” Palmer and The Jive Bombers

  • A: Cherry
  • B: You Took My Love

(Apr 1958)

Clarence “Bad Boy” Palmer and The Jive Bombers

  • A: Is This The End
  • B: Just Around The Corner

(Feb 1959)

  • A: You Give Your Love To Me
  • B: Stardust 

Collectables Records

The Jive Bombers

  • A: Bad Boy

Varetta Dillard

  • B: Johnny Has Gone

The Jive Bombers’ music, particularly “Bad Boy,” continues to be celebrated for its timeless appeal and has been covered by various artists across different music genres. The group’s influence extends beyond their immediate commercial success, contributing to the rich tapestry of American rhythm and blues music. Their work remains a point of interest for enthusiasts of the genre and 1950s American music culture.

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